Apr 15, 2021 • Podcast

How do I comfortably ask for referrals?

On this episode, Paul offers seven tips for asking that satisfied customer for a referral. 

Let the customer know from the start that you work on a referral basis.

Exceed your customer’s expectations.

Reinforce the value you deliver before asking for a referral.

Ask for testimonials from your best customers.

Just Ask! You won’t get a referral unless you ask for one.


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How do I comfortably ask for referrals?

(Transcribed from podcast)

On today’s show, we are going to take a question from the website. So this is just another reminder, make sure you visit the QandASalesPodcast.com. While you’re there, you can ask me a question and I will turn it into a future show. This question is coming from Kristin. Kristin wants to know about referrals. Here’s the question: “What is the best way to ask satisfied customers for referrals without it being uncomfortable?” That’s the question we’re going to answer on today’s show question. I know many of you sellers out there have thought about it, so let’s get right down to it.

Before we answer the question though, a quick shout-out to Andrea over at The Creative Impostor Studios. The Creative Impostor Studios does a great job. I mean, when it comes to setting up a podcast, when it comes to launching a podcast—all things podcast—Andrea and her team, they are your go-to resource. We’re going to have a link to her website on this episode’s webpage, so make sure you check it out. Podcasting is a great way to connect with your audience, so reach out to her if you have questions or you’re thinking about starting one.

Also pick up your latest edition of Value-Added Selling. Value-Added Selling is your go-to guide for selling more profitably. In fact, in the book we talk about referrals and just how critical they are. In fact, we found a study that showed one referral is worth as much as twelve cold calls. So we do touch on that in Value-Added Selling. Pick up your book today.

Let’s get back into that question: How do you ask for that referral and how do you do it correctly and without making the buyer feel uncomfortable? So we’ll get into that question. The first thing though, I’m going to go through just a series of tips, about seven or so tips in total for you guys to think about.

Tip number one: set the expectation early that you work on a referral basis. And that means even before the sale has taken place. Let’s say you’re just initiating contact with the prospect, or maybe they’re just visiting your bank or you’re visiting their office, wherever it may be, during your initial conversations, it’s important to mention that you work on a referral-type basis. Meaning, you will potentially ask them for a referral. It’s letting that prospective buyer know that referrals are an important part of your business. Now, this is mostly prevalent, you know, in the real estate world, in the banking world, financial services world. It’s very common to ask for referrals. You should feel comfortable in letting your prospective clients know that you do use referrals as a way to go out there and grow your business, okay? So make sure you set that expectation early and let the buyer know that you do work on referrals. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be asking them for a referral before the sale takes place. Just let them know that primarily you initiate contact through referrals. Okay? Let them know that. So set the expectation.

The second tip: I’d continuously exceed your customer’s expectations. In order to increase the likelihood that you are going to get a referral, make sure that you are providing your customer with an unbelievable experience. Make it so that they can’t wait to tell you who you should contact, or they can’t wait to tell their friends, or they can’t wait to introduce you to someone that could be a good viable prospect. So continue to exceed your customer’s expectations.

Tip number three: create a profile for your customers. When you’re going to reach out to your customers, don’t just ask them, “Hey, do you know anyone I should talk to?” No. Let them know what the ideal customer looks like. Be able to describe them, in detail whatever metrics are relevant to your industry. Use that profile as a way to help narrow the choices. Sometimes when we ask someone, “Hey, who else do you know that I could reach out to,” well, there’s too many. It’s endless possibilities. Instead, give them a profile and even communicate that to them, email it to them, let them think about it and then follow-up later with just a call to see who fits that profile. So tip number three, create a profile.

Tip number four: reinforce the value that you’ve already delivered for them before you ask for the referral. For example, let’s say you’re a realtor. Realtor just sells a house and they, the homeowner, the new homeowner has a wonderful experience. They just sold their house. Everything went great. Before that realtor goes back and asks for a referral, they should do a quick review—do a quick review and say, “Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner, thank you for trusting me with selling your home and finding a new home. Let’s just do a quick recap of the overall experience. We were able to sell your house in this number of days. That’s actually several days below the average market. We were able to get a premium on the price of your home, and also, we helped negotiate a more favorable price on your new home. And not only that, but we’ve been responsive the whole time. What areas can we improve on?”

See what we did there is just a basic review. We highlighted some of the value that we delivered. And the reason why we did that, it’s now fresh in the buyer’s mind. Now that the value you’ve created is fresh in the buyer’s mind, then you want to ask them, “Hey, who else do you know that fits this profile that would be interested in a realtor?” And once you asked and get the names and all that, go a step further and ask them if they will introduce you to them, if they will help run the introduction. That will certainly help your odds of success. So tip number four: reinforce that value before you ask for the referral.

Number five: focus on your best-of-the-best clients—your absolute best clients. The clients that you want more of, that is going to be your primary referral source. You don’t need to ask every single one of your customers who they know and who you should talk to that they know. You don’t need to do that. Instead, focus on the best of the best. Focus on the clients or customers that you want more of. And here’s why I say that. Jim Rohn, the famous motivational speaker, he said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of the time with.” So think about this in the context of referrals. Your best clients, you want more people like them. Well, chances are they’re hanging out with some other pretty successful people or successful businesses, whoever it may be. That’s who you want to meet with. You want to meet with their friends, with their circles. So just focus on your best-of-the-best clients.

Number six: keep your customers in the loop. Once you get a referral from a customer, keep them in the loop on the progress of that referral. When a customer gives you a name or a referral, they hope you’re going to be successful. I mean, that’s part of it. That’s part of the reason why they’re willing to give you that referral. So anytime a client gives me a referral, I will keep them up-to-date. I’ll let them know, “Hey, I followed up with that referral. Thank you for the introduction.” When something materializes from it, I will then send a thank-you note to that referral and just say, “Hey, thank you for the introduction. Just to let you know, we ended up working on a couple of projects together.” Whatever I do, I just thank them for the business. I let them know that what they did helped me achieve some success. Because the people that are willing to give you a referral, they want you to be successful, so let them know when you are successful. Not only that, but it creates another touch point that might remind them, “Hey, I know someone else you should talk to.” So make sure you’re sending them a follow-up. Keep them in the loop on the progress.

Tip number seven, ask for a testimonial. Think about this. Before you ask the customer, “Hey, who else do you know that fits this profile,” ask them if they would give you a testimonial. This will put them in the right mindset. As you ask them to prepare a testimonial, what this will do, it will create a great marketing tool for you when you’re trying to reach out to new, prospective clients and all that. But not only that, you can now go on like LinkedIn, for example, and let’s say your client is now connected with several people you want to do business with. What if you just mentioned to your customer, “Hey, I noticed that you’re connected to so-and-so. Do you mind if I share your testimonial with them as a way to lead into an introduction? Would you be okay with that?” If they’re willing to write you a testimonial, that also means that they’re expecting you to share it with people, to publicize it. So use that as a lead in. Those testimonials can create referral sources when you can cross reference that with who they know on LinkedIn or other social sites, things like that. But use those testimonials as a way to lead in and introduce. Not only that, but as the customer writes a testimonial, you’re also kind of reinforcing, once again, that you’ve delivered a lot of value. And so they’re going to be more open to giving you referrals and names.

One final tip–bonus tip: just make sure you ask for it if nothing else. So many salespeople don’t ask for referrals. I mean, in my training seminars, when I ask salespeople, “How often are you asking for referrals,” It’s less than 10 percent. It’s really a bogus number. Those sellers are missing opportunities. So whether you’re comfortable with it or not, just do it. And these tips that we went through today, they will help you go out there and get those referrals.

You know what to do—make it a big day.

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